Serge Lutens La Fille de Berlin: Death by Roses


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 “She’s a rose with thorns, don’t mess with her. She’s a girl who goes to extremes.

When she can, she soothes; and when she wants … ! 
Her fragrance lifts you higher, she rocks and shocks.”

-Serge Lutens

 I like a rose. The smell of rose petals has me inhaling deeply and satisfyingly. There is nothing to beat the smells found in nature. My grandmother’s rose garden was her pride and joy and her passion was infectious.  She grew deep velvety red roses, roses with coral petals named after the Queen Mother, and a lovely yellow rose whose petals were tinged pink like a blush. My grandmother died ten years ago but she is with me every time I smell a rose in the sunshine.  Roses make me happy.

Or so I thought until I smelt Serge Lutens La Fille de Berlin. My first impression, admittedly after a day of trawling Sephora and Marionnaud, was “After Eight Mints”. Don’t ask me why. Maybe it was the high concentration of the roses giving them a slightly medicinal scent, bordering on herbal, or even antispectic. Maybe it was the fact I was saturated in more than seven fragrances at the time. I had broken my golden rule of “one scent, one arm, and then go home”. But when faced with a sweet shop, it’s hard to just buy one humbug.

La Fille de Berlin is like having concentrated essence of Roses squirted up each nostril and then being shoved face down into black cherry jam, whilst being read stark war poetry. You may well feel differently. The combination of Rose and Pepper is considered by some to be a perfect balance: a sort of serendipity, like bacon and maple syrup. What lucky chance that these two were thrown together to make a symphony worthy of Kings. I once knew a girl who loved Marmalade with her Sausages. It’s remarkably good, though not, of course as a fragrance.

With La Fille de Berlin the image and name contribute to my aversion. There is an impression of sadness, war and grief beneath the fragrance. The video on the Serge Lutens website left me feeling bereft and hollow, helpless with a compassion that has no direction or use. It’s all cold thorns, snow and suffering. Wearing La Fille de Berlin ruins a good memory and paints bad memories over the top of it. It repels me and makes me scared of losing cherished memories of smelling roses. It stamps over the petals, reminding me only of the thorns and bloody fingers. Even the bottle is a bit too red for comfort.

This is melancholy and tragic and the roses are too many, like a nightmarish replication that suffocates until roses become your enemy. Give me back a rose I can enjoy.

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5 thoughts on “Serge Lutens La Fille de Berlin: Death by Roses”

  1. Oooh, I haven’t smelled this, but I want to now. I too love roses in the garden, and I have planted them in every garden I’ve owned. I’ve just started in my new place – the first rose bush has just gone in. This makes me happy. No war poetry here.

    The trouble is, I don’t much like roses in perfume. I’m not keen on smelling like a straight-up rose bush, and I’m not keen on them mixed with oud, or retro-style with violets. I’m not even fond of them with spices, except as pot pourri. I don’t own many rosy perfumes, and those that I do, I don’t wear often. I guess my favourite of them is JC Ellena’s Hermès Kelly Calèche, which is light and transparent and archetypically Ellena. I like it in the summer – for some strange reason I seem to need warmth to enjoy JC’s work. I’ll fetch it round to yours. 😉

    So nice to have you back, darling girl. Cor, but it’s hard work writing one of these every day! x

    1. My dear woman, the sample is yours. I know that you, like me, will smell anything, whether you think you’ll like it or not. I’m guessing not with this one, but it’s an interesting one. The rose has been made almost repellent. It’s an unfriendly sort of scent. As you can tell, I didn’t much like it!

  2. Interesting. I love a rose or two too. SL’s Sa Mageste (with an accent ) La Rose is one of my favourites. So La Fille de Berlin, with all its crimson temptation, yelled at me to want it.
    But these days I’ve a rose collection, and although I like La Fille so far Ive found it resistible.
    I hope one day that I’ll change my mind.

    1. Hi Sarah, thank you for dropping by- always a pleasure! I found La Fille way too cold, but I like the sound of SL Sa Mageste. My current favourite rose is Andy Tauer Incense Rose and Une Rose Chypree. Much warmer!

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